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Healthcare worker shortage straining Brazos Valley hospitals during recent COVID-19 surge

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 10:41 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Brazos Valley hospitals say they are not only experiencing an increase in COVID-19 patients, but also a healthcare worker shortage.

This shortage, however, is not just in the Brazos Valley. Dr. Lon Young, Medical Director at CapRock Health Systems says that this is an issue across the United States.

“You lose some to COVID-19, and then some have retired, and then you have a pandemic that is not just here in our area, by definition it is everywhere. So all locations need additional staff to some degree,” said Young.

According to the Department of State Health Services, Thursday, there was only one ICU bed available in our hospital region.

Dr. Young says that unfortunately, this staffing shortage is not something that can change overnight. He notes that it takes years of school, training, and then experience to handle a virus like this. He adds that the number one position they are short on is nurses.

“If you are going to take a disease as challenging as COVID-19 has been, and in addition add more patients than normal to a given service or a given nurse care, its hard to find people who can or will do that,” said Young.

Below is a joint statement from Baylor Scott & White Health, and St. Joseph Health released to KBTX Thursday.

“The Brazos Valley has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases as a result of the Delta variant. With previous surges, we were fortunate to have supplemental staffing resources available. Without those needed resources this time, our health systems face greater challenges when needing to open surge capacity.

Both St. Joseph Health and Baylor Scott & White work daily to find creative and effective ways to ensure that our staffing is appropriate as safety is always our top priority. We continue to closely monitor our capacity, staffing, and PPE to ensure we are adequately able to care for all of our community’s needs during this pandemic. With that in mind, it is necessary that community members understand that the responsibility of minimizing the need to open surge capacity lies in great part with them.

The available COVID-19 vaccines have proven effective in preventing and lessening the severity of COVID-19 infections, including those caused by the Delta variant. The vast majority of those being hospitalized with COVID-19 at this time are not vaccinated or are only partially vaccinated. We strongly urge any community members who have not already been vaccinated to do so immediately. To find a list of locations offering the vaccine, visit www.vaccine.gov. In addition, we encourage the continued use of other safety precautions such as wearing a mask when in public, social distancing when possible, staying at home if you are sick, and diligently practicing hand hygiene often.”

Dr. Young says this staffing shortage is important not just for anyone with COVID-19, but for everyone in the area.

“Certainly the COVID-19 patients have overwhelmed the system, but the majority of patients in the hospital are still there for other reasons, so this staffing shortage can affect people even if you do not get COVID-19,” said Young.

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